Catholicism And FreemasonryThere are many books about Freemasonry written by Catholic authors, which deal with the Masonic influence on the Catholic Church and its practice of joining Masonic Lodges. The subject of these books is a sensitive one, to say the least, considering that the Pope, acting on the authority of his successors, has continually demonstrated his unwillingness to open the gates of the Holy City to all but priests and confessors. For this reason alone it is vitally important that any Catholic interested in reading Masonic books about Freemasonry understand both what the books are saying and how these Masonic teachings may affect the workings of the Catholic Church. In 1739, the Catholic Church first banned Catholics from membership in secret societies and other Masonic groups. Since then, more than eleven popes have delivered statements regarding the incompatibility of Catholic teachings and Freemasonry. All of these statements essentially reiterate the same theme, that the two organizations are not compatible, that one leads to another and that, if used, the other could cause irreparable damage to the Catholic Church. All of these papacies also stressed that, if used, Freemasonry could destroy the power of the Roman Catholic Church. In the modern era, the Catholic Church and Freemasonry have developed a particularly close relationship. One of the most popular books about Freemasons written by a Catholic writer is titled; Understanding Freemasonry. The author, Rev. Edward A. Larson explains the three phases involved in working with Masonic symbols. These symbols relate back to the very origins of Christianity and the Holy Trinity. This understanding helps shed light on the mind of Christ, helping us understand why He chose to break away from the strict pattern of ancient Israel and His apostles, and why He allowed the Holy Spirit to lead His followers into persecutions. The next stage of understanding, according to Rev. Larson, is an examination of the three books written by Pope Pius XII. These three books, Vatican II, Code of Canon Law, and Dogmatic Constitution on the Teaching of the Holy Word, clarify what Catholics should believe concerning all matters relating to religion. The third part of this three-part series, Canon 2335, the "Law of the Index," clarifies what should be considered as acceptable practices by Catholics when conducting liturgical worship. The cardinal's law addresses the participation in non-religious acts. A good study of this literature can give a deeper insight into the beliefs and principles of Catholics. For many years, Catholics have been critical of the activities of masons. However, it must also be understood that there are some elements in the Craft that are compatible with religion, such as a belief in God. Even so, this article will demonstrate that the Masonic lodges of the 19th century were, in some ways, similar to the Catholic religious orders, including the Society of the Holy Cross, the Hospital Order of the Grand Lodge of England, and the Royal Masonic Fraternity. Many Catholics and Freemasons have differences of opinion concerning the role of religion in society and its place in the structure of government. One of the key arguments between the two sides is the question of evil. Some Catholics believe that the existence of God is a guarantee of moral truth; however, most masons do not hold this belief. In discussing The Great Masonic conspiracy, there are three different theories on the authorship of the document. The first group points to Pope Innocent III as the instigator of the conspiracy; the second group to the intrigues of General Gittens and Count Philippe of France; the third to the later pontificate of Pius XII. Most scholars, however, believe that the origin of the document actually goes back to the Council of Nice. It was then included in the Corpus Collectanea of 18 Florence, which included documents from councils throughout Europe. Catholics, and their sympathizers, also point out that the name in which the document is called The Great Masonic conspiracy is actually a misnomer. They argue that the document was really issued by the French King consort, Henry IV, not by a Grand Master, although this may indeed have been the intention of the writer, Flavio Jacqois de Sarto. This point of contention is a matter of tradition. The second commandment, "We must bind ourselves by an oath, not to share the profits of churches or monasteries," is commonly referred to as the vow of obedience. The third commandment, "not to teach any false doctrine among the people," is generally thought to mean that the Catholic Church cannot teach that Jesus was the Son of God, as some modern Christians claim.